The easiest way to stop algae build up in your water feature is to clean directly with bleach. However, this can have consequences for any wildlife or plants in your pond causing irreparable damage. Instead try a fix that you’ll have in your cupboards at home: a simple and cost-effective mix of white vinegar and water, a mixture of half and half. Otherwise you can try our fountain safe cleaner which is wildlife friendly.

Green algae growing on a body of water

What you’ll need to prevent algae in your garden water feature

  • Vinegar (for a more wildlife friendly clean)
  • Cloth
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Fresh water (to refill your water feature with afterwards)

Continue reading our guide below for more tools you might need to remove algae.

What is algae and why does it happen? 

Algae is a simple organism that thrives in water, and can actually be beneficial to plants and fish. However, the main issue with algae is its unsightliness. It can rapidly grow out of control so it’s good to keep on top of. Especially during summer months when algae grows quickest. Algae does its worst when water is warm, slow-moving and full of nutrients. They can grow in most bodies of water including fresh or salt water. 

The type of algae that grows in ponds and lakes is caused by nutrient pollution, with an excess of nitrogen and phosphorus. Certain types of algae can be harmful to plants and animals so it’s definitely important to keep an eye out. When we add white vinegar to a garden water feature we are altering the pH of the water or surface of the water feature, preventing the algae from growing (although temporarily). 

Algae covered pond with bridge in background

How to stop water features going green

To avoid a build up of algae to begin with it’s wise to place your water feature or pond in a shady location. However, this is counterintuitive to advice on keeping a clean water feature as often shady areas mean tree coverage of your fountain which will mean falling debris and mess to clean up. You can also place some pennies in your water feature (older ones work better) as the copper content in the coins prevents algae from growing – feel free to toss it in and make a wish!

Quick Steps for Cleaning the Green Off your Water Feature

It is advisable to clean your water feature of algae regularly as then there is less need for more abrasive cleaning methods. For regular light maintenance, clean or wipe away algae with a cloth. Then replace the water in the water feature. 

lily pads in a pond with algae in the background

How to Prevent Ponds Going Green?

If you have a large pond, you can’t very easily clear it all out to clean it and it would be quite costly to add enough vinegar to clear it of algae. An environmentally friendly alternative is to use barley straw, a natural alternative that is pet and wildlife friendly.   

How about trying an oxygenator?

Oxygenators can help prevent fountains going green and prevent algae build up. Oxygenators, as in the name, add oxygen to your water which will balance out any excess of nitrogen which causes the algae. As well as causing more movement of the water which also helps to prevent algae growth. 

If the build up of algae and bacteria in your water feature is too hard to clean away, you might be considering a new one – see all our water features available today.

My water fountain is concrete – how can I clean and remove algae?

If you have a concrete fountain then our previously recommended mix of water and vinegar won’t harm your water feature. The only difference is you might need to apply a bit more elbow grease to your sponge or brush to get in any small crevices. 

Black concrete trough water feature featuring poseidon head

Will vinegar harm my water feature pump?

Advice is mixed on whether you should use vinegar to clean your water feature pump. If you regularly clean your fountain, you should be able to turn your water feature pump off and clean it with a warm soapy water mix. However if it’s been a little while since your water feature last had a clean, then it might be worth washing it with a mix of ½ water and ½ white vinegar. Although vinegar is an acid it is a relatively weak one. Additionally, with the vinegar weakened by the water, it will be less destructive. Then once cleaned make sure to rinse or wipe off all the vinegar solution. This should also help eradicate any leftover chippy smells from the vinegar!

How can I safely clean algae without harming birds or pets?

If you do have any fish in your water feature these should be removed safely before doing any cleaning. This is a particularly important question for bird baths and the first step when cleaning should always be to clean with a stiff brush first to get the worst off. You should avoid bleach or chlorine at all costs if you want your water feature to be wildlife friendly. Cleaning with one part vinegar to one part water as recommended previously, is not harmful to birds, insects and the majority of plants. Fountain safe is also a product designed purposefully to be wildlife friendly. Make sure to rinse off cleaning solutions once done just to be safe. 

For a guaranteed safe alternative for wildlife, fish and plants check out Blanketweed Pond Treatment.  

Does your water feature have an unpleasant smell? Don’t fear – there are ways to get rid of nasty scents caused by bacteria. Check out our complete guide to removing smells from your water feature.

Photo by Ivan Bandura on Unsplash

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Photo by Steven Kleinsasser on Unsplash